Orlando Police Testing Amazon's Real-Time Facial Recognition

The entire list of returned documents is here.

The documents in question highlight Washington County's database of 300,000 mug shot photos and a mobile app designed specifically for deputies to cross-reference faces. In what Orlando's police chief praises as a "first-of-its-kind public-private partnership", Amazon promised free consulting services to build a Rekognition "proof of concept" for the city.

'People should be free to walk down the street without being watched by the government, ' the letter said.

Some research has indicated that such programs can be error-prone, particularly when identifying people of color, and activists argue these systems can build up large databases of biometric information which can be subject to abuse.

Nonetheless, documents obtained by the ACLU show that Amazon continued to privately market Rekognition as a surveillance solution to law enforcement, with a primer on its facial recognition system.

Amazon has defended its decision to provide facial recognition technology to governments and police forces after civil rights groups called on the tech giant to stop. The federal government could use this facial recognition technology to continuously track immigrants as they embark on new lives'. As with other surveillance technologies, these systems are certain to be disproportionately aimed at minority communities.

The ACLU's Mr Cagle said he believed Amazon was entering the surveillance industry without proper consideration about how this technology could be used in future.

Amazon drew the ire of the American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday over a facial-recognition system offered to law-enforcement agencies that the advocacy group says can be used to violate civil rights.

But Amazon pushed back in an emailed statement about the program, saying that it had "many useful applications in the real world" and that the firm "requires that customers comply with the law and be responsible when they use" its products.

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"If we use this technology in public places you'll find people you're looking for - might even find lost children", he says.

Rekognition's commercial customers include the image-sharing network Pinterest and the directory website Spokeo.

The new service can identify, track and analyze people in real time, recognizing up to 100 people in a single image.

It cost the sheriff's office just US$400 ($579) to load 305,000 booking photos - which are already public records - into the system and US$6 a month in fees to continue the service, according to an email obtained by the ACLU under a public records request.

"Our quality of life would be much worse today if we outlawed new technology because some people could choose to abuse the technology", the company's statement said. "Imagine if customers couldn't buy a computer because it was possible to use that computer for illegal purposes".

The most controversial use of Amazon Rekognition is by law enforcement.

"Technology is a tool; placing a tool in the context of extreme racism and brutality is simply going to produce more extreme racism and brutality", Cyril said of police use of cameras. So far, the city has provided facial imaging for only a "handful" of officers who volunteered to participate in the test.

"Access for Amazon for this pilot is extremely restricted and limited to only eight city-owned cameras only - three city-owned IRIS cameras and five city-owned facility security cameras", Bernal said.


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